BAGHDAD — — Iraq is ready to intervene militarily if the Kurdish region’s planned independence referendum results in violence, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday.
If the Iraqi population is “threatened by the use of force outside the law, then we will intervene militarily,” he said.
Iraq’s Kurdish region plans to hold a referendum on Sept. Twenty five to gauge support for independence from Iraq in three governorates that make up its autonomous region, and in disputed areas that are managed by Kurdish coerces but claimed by Baghdad.
“If you challenge the constitution and if you challenge the borders of Iraq and the borders of the region, this is a public invitation to the countries in the region to crack Iraqi borders as well, which is a very dangerous escalation,” Mr. Abadi said.
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The leaders of Iraq’s Kurdish region have said they hope the referendum will shove Baghdad to negotiate a path for independence. Mr. Abadi said such negotiations would be complicated by the referendum.
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“It will make it stiffer and more difficult,” he said, but added, “I will never close the door to negotiations. Negotiations are always possible.”
Iraq’s Kurds have come under enlargening pressure from regional powers and the United States to call off the vote.
In a statement released Friday night, the White House called for the Kurdish region to abandon the referendum “and come in into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad.”

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